Monday, May 12, 2008

My trip to Bristol part one: Friday.

I'm extremely exhausted and trying to rehydrate furiously after the fantastic weekend I've just had at this year's comics convention in Bristol. As there's loads to tell, I'm going to split this up into fairly easy-to-digest bits. So here's what happened on the Friday:

Weirdly enough, my train was on time, and my reserved seat was unoccupied! I was sat amidst a group of French students who were extremely annoying. I'd forgotten to pack anything to read on the train journey, but luckily enough, the passenger who had occupied my seat before me had left a copy of The Times behind for me to have a read of. There wasn't a lot of interest in there, but I read the sports pages, and an interesting article about Bob Dylan and put the paper back down. As soon as I did, the French guy opposite me (I was sat in those seats that have a table, so you end up trying to spend the journey avoiding eye contact with the passenger opposite, and also trying to avoid kicking them, probably accidentally, under the table) asked me in broken English if he could read the paper. He took the paper and started laughing at the first story he was looking at, which was about Josef Fritzl. Then, he turned the page and saw a picture of a dying Burmese baby. He thought this was hilarious and held up the paper so all his mates could see it, shouted something out in French and all his mates had a good old laugh at the picture. How sweet.

Not long after, it was time for me to get up and wrestle my (very heavy indeed) bag out of the rack, which was not an easy task as my new Gallic friends had dumped all of their luggage on top of mine, and they all sat there watching me, smirking, as I struggled to get my bag out. In the end I just dumped one student's ridiculously large rucksack (it was virtually a bergen) on the floor to get to mine. He got up out of his seat then.

Bristol Temple Meads station is a fantastic-looking place, and it's how I think all railway stations should look. Especially when you consider that I'd just travelled from Birmingham New Street, a place not suffering from 'sick building syndrome', more like 'terminally ill building syndrome'. My girlfriend's train arrived about a quarter of an hour after mine did, so I hung around outside the station in the glorious sunshine topping up my nicotine levels rather than my tan. She duly arrived (bringing far too much stuff in her suitcase, as usual. It was one of them things with wheels that you can drag along like a tartan shopping trolley, which is a lot easier usually, but the area around the convention and the station has its fair share of cobbled and uneven pavements so you end up with vibration white finger after pulling it along for just five minutes!) and we went along to our hotel and checked in.

Now, for the last few comic-cons I always get there a day early so I can spend some time with two of my oldest friends, Mark and his wife Dawn, who don't live far from Bristol. Dawn came to meet us outside our hotel after she finished work and we all got on a bus to Keynsham, which is where she parks her car (it seems a convoluted way of getting to and from work to me, but apparently this saves her a hell of a lot of money in travel costs) and from there we went to a supermarket to get food and beer, survived a minor anti-freeze incident and then we went on to their lovely home in Saltford where Mark and Dawn cooked me and Heather (that's my lovely girlfriend) a fantastic Mexican meal which we ate in their garden, as the weather was glorious (but the clouds were looking ominous). Although they'd been in the house a while now, it was the first time I'd seen it, and Mark proudly showed us around his garden and the variety of crops he was growing. Ah, bless him.

After dinner, the plan was to head into Bath, where Mark was meeting up with some ex-colleagues of his, so we all piled into Dawn's car (she pulled the short straw and was the designated driver) and headed into Aquae Sulis. On the way the heavens opened; a torrential thunderstorm started to batter the south west. There was sheet lightning, heavy rain, and hailstones, and we couldn't park that close to the pub. Romans might've been shit-hot at building roads, but they're shit at providing parking spaces. This meant that we had to leg it to the pub in what seemed to be a monsoon. We turned up looking like drowned rats. However, after I had tried some fucking disgusting strawberry-based beer, we found out that Mark's ex-colleagues weren't coming as they had problems with their car or something, so we decided to head to Mark's local, a charming little tavern, and it was a lot drier there. In fact, they hadn't had any rain at all yet, so we sat outside with the smokers under an awning and watched the lightning from a distance. It all looked very Wuthering Heights. Then it started to rain again. A lot. The awning under which we all huddled started to fill up with water dramatically. We all looked up at the pregnant bulges above us and decided to make our way inside quickly. One of the other smokers wasn't quick enough and didn't make it in time; the awning collapsed and gave the straggler an almighty shower. Not only did it extinguish his cigarette, it also soaked him completely! Everyone who had made it in time was standing in the doorway of the pub pointed at him and laughed loudly. Then we all laughed at the inappropriately dressed teenage girls who were trudging past drenched. Then later, we saw two other young girls wrestling with each other in a big puddle. Strange.

When the rain died off a bit, the four of us headed back into Brizzle and had a few in the Hatchet. This is apparently Bristol's oldest pub and reputedly has a door covered in human skin. Nice. It's now a rock pub, and when I went there last year Mark and I were accosted by a woman obsessed with the SS and her very tall, very-manly looking transsexual mate. Nothing as weird as that happened this time, we had a few drinks, talked a lot of shite as usual and sang along to Flash by Queen whilst thumping the tables in time with the music. Heather, as usual, got invited to have dinner with my friends at some point in the future. (I think I might've been invited, too. It's one of the things I've noticed about Heather is that she gets invited to dinner by a lot of the people I've introduced her to. They ask her, not me!) Anyway, it was a great night, we headed back to our hotel slightly merry and happy and tired and all set for the Comics Convention the next day.
Mark and I (possibly in a refreshed state) in post-'Flash' celebratory huddle.


Madeley said...

And oddly enough, the reason I couldn't make it to Bristol this year was because I was heading in the opposite direction to you to get plastered with some old friends in Birmingham.

Mick said...

Did you go anywhere exciting? Well, as exciting as Birmingham gets?

Madeley said...

Oh, we don't do Excitement anymore. Case in point: We ended up in Walkabout on Broad Street.

Dropped some cash in Nostalgia & Comics on Saturday for old time's sake. I've spent so much in there over the years I'm pretty sure I'm eligible for part ownership.